To some people, cars are everything. To others (such as myself), they are simply a way to get from point A to point B.
Quite frankly, I haven't owned a new car in nearly 20 years. A good used car is all this boy needs to get around -- and, to illustrate this point, I am not at all embarrassed to tell you that my Honda Passport has nearly 240,000 miles under her skirt. I will be devastated when she finally decides to quit.
I am good to the old girl and change her oil religiously, but when it comes to keeping her neat and tidy? That is a different story. Because I'm a fisherman and outdoorsman, my car is always packed with everything I might possibly need should I come across a good spot, a place that might hold clams, doves, quail or any other type of game or fish. I'll even go as far as saying, should there be a nuclear holocaust or a zombie apocalypse, I could probably survive for quite some time on the things that are hiding in the nooks and crannies of my beloved vehicle.
I guess I need to give credit where credit is due when it comes to my vehicular traits: my dad. While my mom drove a lovingly-cared-for Audi, my dad drove a blue and white Datsun 510 -- known all over Hilton Head Island as the "fishmobile." It looked more like a porcupine than a car, with rods sticking out of every window. Instead of dice hanging from the rear view mirror, my dad had lures of every shape and size dangling there, just waiting to snag some hitchhiker he had picked up. That was my dad.
My first real fish mobile was christened when I was attending college in Sarasota, Fla. It was an Army green Fiat 124 sedan and as my tenure at Ringling School of Art progressed, so did the modifications to that poor car. When I wasn't in school -- and, at times, when I was supposed to be in school -- I was fishing. I became obsessed with grouper fishing on a long-range party boat. Being poor, I made a deal with the captain in which I would drive the boat out to the fishing grounds while he slept and in return I rode for free. That deal, plus my artsy side, led to my first vehicle modification.
As anyone who fishes for grouper knows, live bait outfishes dead bait every time. But keeping live bait -- pinfish -- alive wasn't easy. So what did I do? I fiberglassed the entire trunk, added a drain hole and plug and rigged it up with a pump to keep the water aerated until I reached the boat. Then I would lug three big coolers on the boat, fill them with water, drop in the pinfish and then take the battery from my car to run an aeration pump as we ran offshore. Needless to say, in three years' time my Fiat was a little more than a rusted hulk.
Without going into too much detail, I have had several fish mobiles since -- the most notable being a Suzuki Samurai nicknamed "Fred Flintstone" because the floor boards had rusted through, so you could see the road whizzing by under your feet.
Nowadays, I have learned from many of my mistakes, and instead of taking my Honda to a carwash to have the interior cleaned, I take as much stuff out of the car as I can, open all the doors and strap on a back pack blower. I am telling you, it's the way to go. Dried up fish, shrimp, mud minnows, fish scales, quail feathers, even hooks stuck in the carpeting don't stand a chance against the gale force winds of a 5 hp Briggs and Stratton engine.
It's the cat's meow of car cleaners.
But what about the fish smell? That part is seasonal. During the winter I cut bows of eucalyptus or thyme and hide them under the seats, and during the summer, bags of gardenias are the trick. Needless to say, no matter what I do to quell the smell, my wife won't ride in my car -- even when hers in the shop.
Oh well, can't win em all.
On a whole different subject, I want to thank everyone who is attending my "How to Fish the Lowcountry" seminars. I am sorry I wasn't able to accommodate more of you, but I really wanted to keep the classes small so I could have more one-on-one time with attendees. Since demand was so great, I have decided to do a second series of seminars should I have enough interest (the dates to be determined this week). Limited to 12 people and by reservation only, call me at 843-816-6608 or e-mail me at email@example.com if you are interested in attending.
God does not subtract from the allotted span of a man's life the hours spent in fishing. Columnist Collins Doughtie, a graphic designer by trade and fishing guide by choice, sure hopes that's true.